Feeds

MS uses court order to take out Waledac botnet

Zombie network decapitated. For now

Securing Web Applications Made Simple and Scalable

Microsoft has won a court-issued take-down order against scores of domains associated with controlling the spam-spewing Waledac botnet.

The software giant's order allows the temporary cut-off of traffic to 277 Internet domains that form command and control nodes for the network of compromised machines. Infected (zombie) machines are programmed to regularly poll these control points for instructions and spam templates.

The .com domains, registered in China, will be sin-binned by VeriSign, at least temporarily decapitating the network. Microsoft estimates that Waledac was one of the 10 largest botnets in the US and a major distributor of spam for online (unlicensed) pharmacies, knock-off goods and other tat, as explained in a blog posting by its legal team here.

Waledac is estimated to have infected hundreds of thousands of computers around the world and, prior to this action, was believed to have the capacity to send over 1.5 billion spam emails per day. In a recent analysis, Microsoft found that between December 3-21, 2009, approximately 651 million spam emails attributable to Waledac were directed to Hotmail accounts alone, including offers and scams related to online pharmacies, imitation goods, jobs, penny stocks and more.

The Microsoft lawsuit also accuses 27 as-yet-unnamed defendants of cybercrime offences associated with the Waledac botnet.

Redmond's techies have followed up the legal action with "ethical countermeasures to downgrade much of the remaining peer-to-peer command and control communication" within the botnet, in partnership with its security firm partners.

Operation b49, as Microsoft dubs the Waledac takedown, still leaves the problem of hundreds of thousands of infected PCs, as Redmond readily acknowledges. Clean-up advice including a suggestion to try out Microsoft's malicious software removal tool is included in the bottom paragraphs of a blog post by Tim Cranton, associate general counsel at Microsoft, here.

Criminals running botnets have faced a number of takedown operations over the last year or so, dating back to the McColo shutdown. All normally result in a temporary slowdown in spam volumes. But cybercrooks are getting better at building more resilient networks. Even if that doesn't work, there are always more miscreants in the shadows ready to step in and sell bulk mail services to unethical, unscrupulous or outright criminal marketeers.

Microsoft's enforcement action is welcome, but it treats only the symptoms - and not the root cause - of the botnet epidemic. ®

Mobile application security vulnerability report

More from The Register

next story
HIDDEN packet sniffer spy tech in MILLIONS of iPhones, iPads – expert
Don't panic though – Apple's backdoor is not wide open to all, guru tells us
LibreSSL RNG bug fix: What's all the forking fuss about, ask devs
Blow to bit-spitter 'tis but a flesh wound, claim team
Manic malware Mayhem spreads through Linux, FreeBSD web servers
And how Google could cripple infection rate in a second
NUDE SNAPS AGENCY: NSA bods love 'showing off your saucy selfies'
Swapping other people's sexts is a fringe benefit, says Snowden
Own a Cisco modem or wireless gateway? It might be owned by someone else, too
Remote code exec in HTTP server hands kit to bad guys
British data cops: We need greater powers and more money
You want data butt kicking, we need bigger boots - ICO
Crooks fling banking Trojan at Japanese smut site fans
Wait - they're doing online banking with an unpatched Windows PC?
NIST told to grow a pair and kick NSA to the curb
Lrn2crypto, oversight panel tells US govt's algorithm bods
prev story

Whitepapers

Reducing security risks from open source software
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Application security programs and practises
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.